You can categorize them in two types of areas. The first allows advisors to do a better job managing their clients’ money-like Financial Engines, for example. The other allows them to manage a more efficient operation and spend less time actually running their operation. This will give them more time to do what they do best, spending time with their clients and gathering new clients. If you look at the studies, advisors are spending a significant amount of time just dealing with operational issues. These individuals are financial planners and money managers. They’re better with client relationships, and yet some of them are spending 30% to 60% of the time just dealing with back-office issues. I think what the advisor is going to have to do in the future is significantly decrease the amount of time he spends there and leverage that time, spending it with clients. The best way for advisors to do this is to outsource more of this back-office [burden] to other firms or find other ways to become efficient.
Do you think the outsourcing should hold true for all advisors, or for advisors who specifically focus on high-net-worth clients?
I think it is for all advisors. There are certain things that every advisor has to do, including sending out performance reports. Part of sending out those reports entails getting information from the broker/dealer to the advisor’s desktop, and then uploading that information into portfolio management software. Part of the process is downloading all the transactions, reconciling them, being sure everything makes sense, and then fixing any little problems. It’s a pretty time-consuming job when you have to upload all that information and then create the reports.
There has been some talk of the larger custodians cutting back and experiencing some layoffs. Is that in the future for Waterhouse?
No, on the institutional side our business is very strong. We’re growing very quickly and faster than our competitors. We have quite a bit of momentum, so we’re growing.